Hammy 70s Horrors!
By Kristin Battestella
For every great horror movie, there are a dozen so bad they’re good lovably stinky, corny, dated, and trite more horror movies. Here are a few bemusingly decrepit tales from that equally irrepressible seventies decade!
The House That Cried Murder – Hokey feel good music, peace and love fashions, and a romantic country stroll open this 1973 spooky before the under construction isolated house fears, scandal, violence, blood, and pleasing, killer camerawork raise the horror. There’s a little too much telling instead of showing and jumping around in establishing this bored, demented rich girl back-story – it doesn’t seem like there is a complete script or a lot of dialogue yet the depravity remains largely told not seen until the gruesome shockers and terrorizing phone calls build nicely. Robin Strasser’s (One Life to Live) snotty attitude is a bit understandable since dad John Beal (The Vampire) doesn’t like her new husband, but the ladies look too much alike in this poorly lit, flat transfer, and the painful, gritted teeth delivery and wedding scenery go on too long. Fortunately, the marital torment, frightful organ music, and hazy dream perspectives make for some twists even to the seasoned scary viewer, and the design gets better as the plot escalates. Of course, it looks like there are different versions and runtimes under the video title The Bride, and the little information available here makes this film somewhat elusive. Yes, it looks like crap and has some corny faults but this creepy is entertaining nonetheless.
Jack the Ripper Goes West – This low budget western/horror mash up also called A Knife for the Ladies has the Old West atmosphere thanks to carriages, outdoor filming, and a fun, cardboard town façade. Spooky killer footsteps, unseen murderous perspectives, and a metronome setting the scary beat add some simmering, but skimpy blood, tame skin, and bad music are hokey today. A poor print and low sound doesn’t help, either, and most of the acting is very, very wooden – I think one poker playing saloon gal might actually be a dude! Though the mystery is hampered by a weak lead, confusion, and a meandering shootout, the short hour moves through the body piling motions and corny seeking the clues amid the fumbling frontier who’s who. The town mob even strings up a cliché decoy killer! I’ve probably put more thought into this than they actually did, but there’s a good demented finish here, and it would be cool to see a truly proper horror western crossover. This is a bad but bizarre and harmless macabre for a drinking game or offbeat marathon.
Terror –Eerie credits set the mood for this simply named 1978 murder fest along with period angry mobs, fiery stakes, and fancy frocks before the usual seventies suave, thunderstorms, and cool cars. Then-shocking blood on white innocent parallels and fine editing mimic the onscreen stabbings and accentuate the intense death scenes but also help mask the sparse interiors, pleasant but reused locations, and up close filmmaking. Howling winds, ominous music, freaky phone calls, and killer pursuits create brooding build-ups and scary sequences, yet most of the acting is hokey, characters do stupid things, and I for one was glad when some annoying people finally met their ends! Ironically, the dated British slang feels over the top, even fake and put on, and film within a film feelings fall along the wayside for these accursed but somewhat obnoxious hep cats. Beyond Glynis Barber (Blake’s 7) it’s tough to tell who is who, so we can’t fully appreciate the peril of such random lookalike people. Weak nudity, poor club scenes, and bad onscreen moviemaking are ultimately useless, too, and the precursor slasher standards already feel run of the mill. There’s some mystery as to who’s carrying out this fatal curse upon the family, however the deaths feel haphazardly strung together instead. The finale is also abrupt; I expected a pull the rug out from under twist that never really happens. Fortunately, the titular atmosphere is here and the result is entertaining and effective if mindless. This isn’t as bad or low budget as it could have been and seventies horror fans can have a death tally good time with this one.
A Bit Iffy
The Rats are Coming! The Werewolves are Here! – This 90 minute 1972 period piece from writer and director Andy Milligan (The Ghastly Ones) has some okay late Victorian interiors and costumes – those big poofy orange sleeves are a bit much, however, and the women all have anachronistic long, straight seventies hair. Old World houses, pretty gardens, and sunshiny estates do belie the titular violence, but in addition to British accents and low volume, all the screaming, shouting, and bad acting doesn’t help with the family names and who’s who here. The newlywed plot feels somewhat stupid, and the whole lot of family politics and lycanthrope exposition told rather than shown ironically doesn’t explain much. The genetic experiments and wolfy cures that should be the core are tough to discern, and nonsensical scenes as well as too many characters don’t help. Clearly, the unnecessary rat subplot was done for a depraved add on, and this time away from the lupes lineage does more harm than good. The fast, in your face, almost happy go lucky pace and production should be much slower with a brooding and dark atmosphere, but sadly, the rapid deliveries akin more to the quick and cheap film design instead of horror mood. The entire movie feels like it’s playing at one and a half speed! Although, that may be a good thing for those who want the viewing over quickly, as this picture is definitely not for everyone – I think I zoned out in the middle somewhere! The bad filmmaking is simply too messy to enjoy the potential were-decent happening here, and most of that good stuff occurs only in the final ten minutes. I dare say it might be fun to see this tale remade in a proper, macabre, and gothic fashion. I don’t really want to recommend this, yet it has to be seen to be believed, and for all it’s faulty construction, strangely, there is some demented here that will be right up a stoned, bad film loving viewer’s alley.